The Founder of the Club is Farouk Meyer.
He, together with more than twenty other members attended the founding meeting at Gordons Bay in January 2009
Who is the man they call “Coach”?
Coach Farouk was born into a loving family of three sons and two daughters in the Bo-Kaap. He was the eldest and learnt his work ethic and the meaning of loyalty from his parents. Both his parents lived to a ripe old age and taught him the importance of providing for the family.
In his early teens the family moved to Kewtown. Even though Farouk now lives with his own family in Surrey Estate, he still has his hair cut by that same barber in Bridgetown.
As a teenager he had a lot of athletic ability. He was taller and faster than his peers, he could run, play soccer, rugby and do martial arts. The latter instilled in him self discipline that has guided him through life’s dilemmas and difficult choices.
He entered the perishable food industry where he made his mark as an executive with sound business acumen. His ambition and desire to be a better provider for his family, however, motivated him to work two jobs. This resulted in him being rushed to the emergency unit with severe abdominal cramps and vomiting. He later learned from doctors that he had suffered a ruptured ulcer due to acute stress.
This happened at the tender age of 26 years.
The medication he used for his ulcer made him feel worse. He came across an article by Professor Tim Noakes about the side effects of certain medications. He decided to rather take the professor’s advice about running as a holistic therapy. And this is where the proverbial running bug bit.
At his place of employment, Farouk started a company running club and also became involved in Western Province Athletics. He was the driving force behind the Truworths, Spar and Foschini Ladies Running Events.
His running results were impressive and he went on to achieve Blue Number status for completing the Old Mutual Oceans Marathon 10 times. He also boasts a sub 3 hour marathon time – a feat that most would be proud of.
He was always conscious of the fact that there was little or no emphasis on healthy eating and a healthy life style in his community. His desire to introduce his community to physical exercise as a means of improving their lifestyles forced him to take action.
As Race Director of a 10km Big Walk in 1999 he began his outreach to the masses and achieved spectacular results. To this day this event still attracts up to 25 000 participants.
Using all his experience he developed Farolink Distributors into a thriving family business. He also applied this experience to the develop organisations that run on a “non-profit” basis and eventually became chairman of the South African Heart Foundation.
He then started a sports events management company, iTheko Events Management (www.itheko.com). This company organises inside and outdoor exhibitions as well as major road running events.
In 2008 he started a running group for people whose goal was simply to improve their health. He encouraged two overweight and medication riddled men (Ebrahim Mohedeen 130kgs and Waleed Isaacs 145kgs) to start running. Eight weeks later after following Farouk’s programme, both completed the Simonstown Naval 10 km run within the cut-off time and the rest is history.
Now, the Lion of Africa Itheko Running Club is one of the fastest growing running clubs in South Africa. The success of the club is that it welcomes community members who have never ever participated in any form of physical activity. Under direct supervision and guidance they are encouraged to follow a well-researched, structured programme and within eight weeks successfully complete a 10km run, slowly progressing thereafter to 15km, 21.1km, 42km and then 56km.
Farouk is married with a son, daughter and three grandchildren. He believes that business (as with life) is not about money but relationships, a philosophy that he holds dear to this day.
We salute you “Coach Meyer” not just for what you are, but for what you stand for!